The responsibilities of an Executive Committee are extremely important during the time of COVID-19 to ensure the best possible health outcomes for residents.
During COVID-19, the role of a strata building Executive Committee has become more important than ever. With rules and regulations about what people can do changing constantly, you have an essential role to support your community of tenants and owner-occupiers.
Take a look at some areas your Executive Committee needs to urgently address if it hasn’t done so already.
Getting together and making decisions
Your Executive Committee is probably used to meeting in person but with gatherings off limits right now, there is currently no clear provision for how EC meetings can be conducted in the ACT.
You may need to delay your premises’ AGM, until there are clear guidelines issued as to how remote EC meetings can be conducted and what constraints and parameters might be applied.
Ensuring resident health and safety
Individuals are of course responsible for their own behaviour but Executive Committees are now faced with a range of decisions relating to common areas, visitors and resident behaviour.
Some things you may need to consider include:
- Cleaning and potentially increasing the visits from your cleaners
- Closing common areas like gyms and pools in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and communicating this to residents
- Placing hand sanitiser in common areas
- Placing distance recommendation markers around the concierge’s desk if there is one
- Which repair and maintenance jobs are deemed ‘essential’ and which can be delayed
- How you will allow non-residents to access the premises
- How many people can use the laundry room at one time
- What to do about fire alarm checks
- Mail delivery best practices (e.g. to front doors instead of mail boxes)
It is also a good idea to come up with a communications plan. Make a decision about how regularly the building’s occupants and stakeholders will be communicated with and how often. For example, when introducing new measures, you may wish to put signs up around the building, send email bulletins and communicate via your online portal with updates on a daily or weekly basis.
What to do if a resident tests positive to COVID-19
Unless you have a bylaw in place stating otherwise, it is not compulsory for residents to report having contracted COVID-19. However, your committee may decide to request notification (this will have to be worded very carefully) about someone in the building falling ill with the virus. Should people notify you, they must have your assurance of confidentiality.
Your committee may wish to make some decisions about the procedures to set in place should an outbreak occur. This will help you be prepared ahead of time.
Put together a list of recommendations for your residents should they become sick with COVID-19. For example, if someone is sick you could recommend they stay indoors, completely avoid common areas, avoid touching handrails, common intercoms and lift buttons, ask someone to deliver food to their door and be extra careful when taking out rubbish (they could wear gloves and a facemask).
Anyone who is regularly at the premises, e.g. tradespeople, strata managers, building managers, residents, owners and property managers should be notified in the case of an outbreak. It is also a good idea to communicate with them the best way to stay safe when visiting your premises.
Dealing with difficult tenants
There are always those who will ignore rules, requests and regulations so it’s worth reminding your tenants they agreed not to cause a nuisance or a hazard to the occupier of any other lot when they signed their contract (this is usually standard in a rental contract).
If a tenant refuses to comply with regulations, you would issue warnings in accordance with your standard practice. Should your committee feel the need to come up with new bylaws, it’s worth remembering these rules must not be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive.
Your responsibility as Executive Committee is to ensure the safe running and management of your premises, to the best of your ability. Stay in touch with your strata manager for advice on what to do and keep the health and safety of all residents in mind with every decision.